jasonglassIA Jason E. Glass
Three things caught my eye: 1) effectiveness (which is what our TQP grant is designed to develop and ultimately measure) 2) Iowa representation (encouraged and hoped for by our new Department of Education Director) and 3) FREE! So I followed the link; learned that Linda Perlstein was seeking education bloggers to attend; and applied. Shortly thereafter I learned that I was selected to attend.
In addition to the 13 educator bloggers as mentioned above, also attending were representatives from the Carnegie Corporation (sponsoring organization) and Education Writers Association, 38 journalists, and representatives from a variety of organizations as panelists. With journalists representing such places as the Washington Post, San Antonio Express-News, Wilmington News Journal, Baltimore Sun, the Associated Press, Seattle Times, New York Times and the Harvard Education Letter and educators from New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., it was clear me to that I was the only voice for rural education in the room. Initially I felt I may be even the only Midwesterner but was happy to learn that there were journalists from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Catalyst Chicago.
Although I am still reflecting on assimilating all the information shared that day, as well as intertwining it with my first-ever visit to New York City, I have a few tidbits to share.
The national arena seems to have shifted the conversation about teacher quality (a certified and qualified teacher in every classroom) to teacher effectiveness without necessarily defining what is meant by an effective teacher. Studies have shown that the single most important element in improving student learning and achievement is the teacher. The Carnegie Corporation asserted in their opening remarks that the "excellent" teacher is what is sought. So what is this elusive teacher (whether we use the word quality, effective, or excellent)?
For the work of our grant we have been viewing the definition in "Approaches to evaluating teacher effectiveness: A research synthesis" by Goe, Bell, Little http://www.tqsource.org/publications/teacherEffectiveness.php
This asserts that Effective Teachers:
- Have high expectations for all students and help students learn
- Contribute to positive academic, attitudinal, and social outcomes for students
- Use diverse resources to plan and structure engaging learning opportunities; monitor student progress formatively, adapting instruction as needed; and evaluate learning using multiple sources of evidence
- Contribute to the development of classrooms and schools that value diversity and civic-mindedness
- Collaborate with other teachers, administrators, parents, and education professionals to ensure student success
Throughout the day various people spoke about and around teacher effectiveness. At the same time I never felt the sense that we all had the same definition from which we were operating. To me, this is a tragedy. Not one that cannot be overcome, but one that does not serve the teaching profession well. The era of measuring effectiveness is upon us. Until we, as educators, can agree on measurable ways to evaluate our performance and not merely those of our students, then I am not certain we are acting as the true professionals we purport to be. The time is now for us as educators to clearly articulate what it is that effective or excellent teachers do, before this definition or measurement is thrust upon us from outside.